The pervasive nature of digital payment methods, mobile apps and third-party delivery companies continue to shape the way customers consume food prepared outside the home. These developments also show the wide-ranging impact digital systems have on almost every step that consumers take when eating food prepared away from home.

Alessandro Sala, Lead user experience designer, Studio Volpi, ChicagoAlessandro Sala, Lead user experience designer, Studio Volpi, ChicagoThe bigger question the supply chain must now address is, how can we meet consumers’ expectations with an ecosystem that’s becoming increasingly more digitalized without taking into account what happens inside kitchens?

On an average, modern foodservice operators expect way more in terms of equipment performance than their predecessors. Many of the processes that were once carried out autonomously by hand are now automated and replicable in the future. We have greater control over the equipment and the way these items work, thus enjoying a higher level of consistency.

Regular users of professional ovens, blast chillers, dishwashers or coffee machines know how to set up their equipment, customizing these items to address their specific needs with made-to-measure functions. They trust that the overall operating experience will continue to improve thanks to enhanced user interfaces that help them make key decisions in a more aware and intuitive fashion.

From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, open kitchens and display cooking have overcome the visual barriers of the past to intertwine the preparation and dining environments. Gone are the commercial kitchens that were traditionally chaotic and poorly organized. More attentive management and preservation of the kitchen areas led to an aesthetic interpretation of equipment with an emphasis on ergonomic and design-oriented features. The result? More refined and sculpturesque products with an elaborate and good-looking finish, eye-catching details and enhanced surfaces.

Digitalization serves as the protagonist driving the introduction of enhanced graphical user interfaces, including a greater number of functions better organized and neatly positioned in highly detailed color displays. Successful execution, though, calls for an in-depth analysis of the graphical representation of such functions, which must take into account how operators will use the equipment, identifying possible navigation methods well rooted in users’ daily routines.

While foodservice operators in the U.S. market value power and volumetric capacity, users in the European marketplace greater emphasis on accuracy and efficiency. Digitalization of equipment makes it easier to adapt a piece of equipment to meet the unique needs of a given operation. And in an increasingly global market, those factors continue to grow in importance.

What benefits should a business in this sector expect when investing in equipment digitalization? It all starts with data collection, the main vector to convert information into products and services. The capacity to collect data on how foodservice operators utilize products helps identify weaknesses, the most used functions and the most stressed components. Being able to leverage this information will help develop planned maintenance and other steps that will minimize downtime and maximize operations.